on May 17, 2013 by in position, Comments (0)

Polemic on future of scholarly publishing/semantic publishing

I think barely-started, unfinished work is important to see, early. As early as possible. Just give us the <expletive> data, people! (as RDF, preferably) As Barend Mons espouses, let’s have nano-publications as peer-reviewed (via the crowd), citable triples with new incentives and let the journal article become “the minutes of science”. Let’s make annotation simpler, against robust ontologies and vocabularies. “Triplets for the people”, says Michel Dumontier. A researcher starting a project needs to be able to traverse the graph of what’s out there first, in its entirety and down to the new, nascent ideas just emerging. Doing research should start with refreshing the graph. “Good morning, would you like to see new information or data added since yesterday so that you can create new knowledge today?” We need to be able to “see” the knowledge coming, forming, taking shape so that we can interact with and steer its development more easily, with more rigour, not less, via these new paradigms. We need to be able to “start anywhere, go anywhere” within a domain or series of domains to see the connections, to sort between data, information and knowledge, and to have the relationships “explained” to us by the machine. Death to CWA (closed-world assumption)! The world is not closed, by nature. This “closedness” has been imposed, and we are adrift in an antiquated business model that actively hinders scientific progress. There may well be reasons to keep some things closed but surely the default state should be open unless a reason is known to close. We need to think as far into the future as we can, to the ideal world we want, then walk backwards from there until we get to stuff we can do today. While I recognize that we have to start with the infrastructure, tools and milieu we inhabit now, the only way to transcend the current paradigm, it seems to me, is to think as far forward as possible, even if only as a thought experiment, and start moving (leaping, where possible) toward the ideal scenario. But, re-assessing the “ideal scenario” and priority-setting must happen continually, in an iterative and agile manner, so that we don’t just reach for the world as we would wish it to be now but are able to re-imagine it as we go along.

Chris Mavergames

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